WASHINGTON – About 100 people, including members of CASA de Maryland, rallied outside of the White House Friday to demand that President Barack Obama sign an executive order to help undocumented immigrants, an action they said he promised them he’d take but postponed until after the election.
Now, they said, it’s time he make good on his promise.
“There’s no more excuses not to take action. We’ve waited long enough,” said Maya Ledezma, a New Carrolton resident who said she came to the United States nine years ago to be with her husband. “Think about all of the families that are waiting on you.”
The crowd called for action similar to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals order the president signed in 2012, which allowed the Department of Homeland Security to use discretion in deporting undocumented immigrants under the age of 15. They’d like to see the order expanded to undocumented immigrants of all ages, they said.
The rally comes as the president faces increased pressure from a Republican party that after a wave of victories in the midterm elections will hold both houses of Congress by January, and will make having their support key to passing a comprehensive immigration reform package.
Many Republicans oppose the president taking executive action on immigration.
At a news conference Thursday, House Speaker John Boehner said that if the president acts unilaterally, it will likely ruin his chances for immigration reform.
“Our immigration system is broken and needs to be fixed. But I made clear to the president that if he acts unilaterally, on his own, outside of his authority, he will poison the well, and there will be no chance for immigration reform moving in this Congress. It’s as simple as that,” Boehner said.
But the president said Thursday in a news conference that signing an executive order might still be on the table.
“What I’m not going to do is just wait,” he said. “I think it’s fair to say that I’ve shown a lot of patience and have tried to work on a bipartisan basis. In the meantime, let’s try to figure out what I can do through executive actions to improve the existing system.”
Liz Alax, lead organizer for Casa de Maryland, said most of the immigrants she talks to don’t trust the Republicans to pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill, so she believes the president should do what little he can to improve their situation.
“They’ve had a long time where they could have done something,” she said of Republicans. “It doesn’t give me confidence that they will act in the next two years. You might as well get the best that you can get out of it.”